New year's Resolutions tips and ideas

New year's Resolutions tips and ideas

Paul Ekman Vancouver talk: Darwin, the Dalai Lama and the Nature of Compassion

Written By: admin - Mar• 09•10
Dr Paul Ekman’s talk is part of the Dalai Lama Center’s Speaker Series, which offers public events that focus on key areas of interest to the Center and to the Dalai Lama, including science and its relationship to spirituality, education of the heart, and the development of compassion and its contribution to the public good.

Dr Paul Ekman’s talk will look at the connection between an evolutionary and a Buddhist view of human nature and will provide a new formulation of the nature of empathy, compassion, altruism and heroism. A long-time friend of the Dalai Lama, Dr Ekman joined the stage with His Holiness at the 2006 Vancouver Dialogues:

Dr Paul Ekman read to the Dalai Lama a passage from Charles Darwin’s The Descent of Man that said one of humankind’s noblest virtues “seems to arise incidentally from our sympathies becoming more tender and more widely diffused, until they are extended to all sentient beings.” After hearing this, His Holiness told Dr Ekman, “I am a Darwinian.”

For Dr Paul Ekman, the lecture “Darwin, the Dalai Lama and the nature of compassion” is not only an opportunity for the audience to learn from the world renowned psychologist, but also a chance for him to learn from them.

“I have given this talk a few times, but it continues to grow and change each time I give it,” he says. “I really want to see how people react and see whether I can gain any new ideas about it.”
Ekman, Professor Emeritus at the University of California at San Francisco, is not averse to using people’s reactions to his work and making drastic changes mid-stream. While writing Emotions Revealed, he had an encounter with the Dalai Lama that led him to reconsider much of what he had written.

“Some of the questions that he had asked and the issues raised during the course of our meeting caused me to rethink the nature of how emotions are triggered and I rather completely rewrote those chapters,” he says. “Emotions Revealed certainly benefited from my meeting with the Dalai Lama.”

Ekman notes that the Dalai Lama considers himself a Darwinian, which he suggests shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. “There is so much similarity between Darwin’s thinking about compassion and virtue and the Buddhist view,” he says. “Although the Buddhists came up with these ideas first and Darwin was aware of Buddhism, they appeared in Darwin’s notebooks years before he learned anything about it,” Ekman says, indicating that the Buddhists and Darwin developed their models of the nature of compassion independent of each other.

And just what is it about Buddhism’s and Darwin’s concepts of compassion and virtue that are so similar? For one, Ekman says, it is that the relationship between mother and infant is such a central focus. Darwin called that relationship the initial basis of compassion, while the Dalai Lama has referred to it as the ‘seed of compassion’,” says Ekman. “We take that [relationship] for granted. But if we treated all human beings the same way we treat our own child, then the world would be a very different place.”

Of course, Ekman has more to share on the links between Darwin and Buddhism, which he will have the opportunity to do this Thursday in Vancouver. Ekman will give his talk – which looks at the connection between an evolutionary and a Buddhist view of human nature and provides a new formulation of the nature of empathy, compassion, altruism and heroism – at SFU’s Segal School of Business on March 11 at 7:00 pm.

About Dr Paul Ekman
Dr Paul Ekman’s work in psychology has led to many international awards and publications, some of which were based on his conversations with the Dalai Lama, and he was named one of last year’s 100 most influential people by TIME Magazine.

Internationally known for his studies on the correlations between facial expressions and human emotions, Dr Ekman is also the inspiration for the television drama series Lie to Me.

Tags: Paul Ekman Vancouver, Darwin, the Dalai Lama and the Nature of Compassion

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